Saturday, June 17, 2006

Hail Sasquatch!

Oh. So. Tired.
How old are we really? None of us realized the energy it would take to drag ourselves out of bed on day 2. Not enough sleep and generally worn out from a long day before, it was tough to get going Saturday morning. On top of that, the lineup for the day was the least compelling of the three for Rob and me anyway. We were looking forward to The Flaming Lips and The Shins who were playing late in the day but there were a bunch of bands we weren't so bothered about for one reason or another--Neko Case, Iron and Wine and Ben Harper, to name a few. Once we arrived at the amphitheater though we had a renewed energy and enthusiasm.
Perhaps not quite as much as this fellow, however......

The great thing about attending a festival is knowing you're going to get plenty of music in by the end of the weekend so there's very little stress about seeing every minute of every set. This in turn makes it really fun to hang out, or in my case, take a nap. The guys went off to the Wookie Stage to watch Band of Horses and I stuck around, listening to Iron and Wine and dozing off. It was actually incredibly relaxing for a while but then the sun was beating down on me and I was sweltering so it just became uncomfortable. It must have been close to 90 degrees and even rolling up my pant legs and taking off my shoes provided little relief. Just then, it began to drizzle, and I'll admit, I welcomed the light rain. I made sure all of our stuff was gathered in a nice little pile and was covered under a blanket and I sat under our umbrella as the sun was still bearing down making it too hot to put on a rain coat.

No sooner had the guys joined me on the blanket and Neko Case started her 45 minute set then the hail started. Yes, folks: HAIL. Now, coming from NH and all, you would think hail would be no new phenomenon to me, but not once in my life have I been caught out in a hail storm. The first few minutes we actually found it quite funny. I was still sitting with my shoes off and my pants rolled up, Bruce and Pat were eating their sandwiches and Rob was still rubbing in his sunscreen. We hunkered down under our wimpy umbrella and waited for it to pass. And waited. And waited. Until we began to wonder if it would pass. By now, the dark clouds had completely moved the sun out of the sky and the temperature dropped about 45 degrees in a matter of minutes. The hail storm lasted 20 minutes and Sasquatch was temporarily ground to a halt. When I told Pat I wanted to see Artic Monkeys, I mean in the Arctic.

The storm really put a damper on the rest of the day. We wandered around listlessly for quite some time unclear on whether the show would go on, or when, or whether we even wanted it to. We watched people sled down the hill and I wondered how anyone could find it fun at the moment. I was frozen through to the bone and even Rob "Shorts 365 days a year" Carey was cold.

People lining up to watch the sledders.

We then had the brilliant idea of buying coffee and hot chocolate. Unfortunately, everyone else at the concert had the same idea. We waited for over an hour in this line and not solely because there were a lot of people, but mainly because the booth was extremely inefficiant at making coffee. Tragically Hip started and finished their set while we were in the line and we still didn't have a coffee. After 50 minutes we overheard someone say there was no more hot chocolate and I could see Rob's head drop in dispair as he stepped out of the line. I finally made it to the front just as a supervisor was checking in on the vendor and I made myself clear on how I thought things were going at the booth. They had run out of hot chocolate, didn't have any milk for the coffee and as I already mentioned, they were inefficient at keeping up with the demand. He tried to explan that no one expected rain and I asked "Why then do the tickets say rain or shine?." He replied: "In 15 years it's only rained twice." Now, guess my response. That's right--"So, if it's rained twice, then you're aware rain is possible and you should plan for that." He didn't really have much to say after that--except that the event staff had made an exception to their "No Re-entry" rule and were allowing people to leave the concert grounds and come back in. An announcement which would have been helpful during the 90 minutes we were waiting for the concert to begin again but not so helpful now the music had started.
Never mind. We got our coffee, which helped me a bit, and now we had The Shins to look forward to and, immediately following, The Flaming Lips. We could then go back to the hotel, sit in the hot tub, and see Dina (Pat's wife) and Dave (Pat and Dina's friend) who were waiting for us at the hotel. The Shins set did not disappoint! Great music, fun performance and all around really enjoyable. But it took forever for the stage to be reset for Flaming Lips. It was beginning to feel like we had spent our entire day waiting. Nearly an hour had passed now and we thought surely The Flaming Lips would kick-off at any minute. And then, if things could get any worse, an event person took to the mic and announced "Due to inclement weather, Ben Harper will be playing first." Nooooooooooooo! We want Flaming Lips. We've been waiting an HOUR for Flaming Lips. If we had known about the schedule change, we could have left and been in the hot tub already! This was just not fair.
We immediately left but, in a moment of indecision and panic, decided to check on the re-entry policy in case we changed our minds. Always a good idea to send me as the spokesperson because of my total and complete intolerance of stupid policies. I was told in order to be allowed re-entry, we would have had to have left the premises before 9:00 PM. And as it was now 9:20, we would not be allowed back in. Surely, the security woman would understand the pure silliness of this made-up policy, right? I mean, they never announced changing the re-entry policy in the first place, they spent an hour setting up for the next band before announcing they had changed the line-up, and if, after waiting all that time, we felt we needed to warm up a little in order to see the band we really wanted to see, that should be acceptable right? Anyway, how could they possibly identify which of the people re-entering had left before 9:00 PM and which had left after 9:00 PM? By the time we left, we were pretty sure she'd be able to identify us as the people who left at 9:20 so there was no chance of re-entry for us. Sorry guys.

We finally made it back to the hotel around 10:30 PM, entered the room and, alas, no Dina and no Dave. What could they possibly be doing around Ellensburg, Washington at 10:30 PM? We look around and realize none of their stuff if there, either, which is strange because they called us from the hotel earlier in the day. Luckily, the cell reception which had been down all afternoon after the hail storm, was working again and we called Dina. We could only hear Pat's side of the conversation on the phone but it was pretty easy to fill in the blanks.

"Hi. Where are you?"
"Noooo. WE'RE in the hotel room."
"I'm serious."
"No. I'm really serious. We are in the room. What room are you in?"

It seems it was a good thing after all we didn't stick around for The Flaming Lips because there's a good chance the occupants of Room 311 would have gotten back before us.
"Somebody's been eating pretzels in my bed.....and she's STILL here!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Road To Sasquatch

Back in February, Pat Collins sent (several) emails to see if we would join him at Coachella music festival. The lineup included a lot of bands we really like including Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Franz Ferdinand and the fantasic Venezualan funk band, Los Amigos Invisibles. Being the great wife that I am, I agreed to go (without asking Rob first, knowing full well that he's not really into the festival scene.) In my acceptance reply I asked, why oh why were Arctic Monkeys not playing--the one band that would have really sold me on the idea. Pat's reply went something like this:

well why didn't you say you wanted to see the
'Monkeys? they're playing the Sasquatch festival
in central Washington on Memorial Day
weekend--and tix go on sale this saturday (it's
also possible to camp, which would further save
money). guess who else is playing? none other
than Nine Inch Nails!


Pat, being nostaligic for road trips, planned to drive there from San Francisco, but the rest of us sensible people, flew to Portland, where Pat picked us up to go the rest of the way (4 hours.)

Rob and I spent Thursday night with Matt and Marieka. Getting to see them twice in a very short period of time, made us wish they were close enough to pop in on on a regular basis. Marieka made us some delicious lasagne and they told us all about their amazing trip to Thailand before we completely obsessed on Google Earth. Which, if you haven't seen, you should do now as I can assure you, it's much more fascinating than this blog entry.

Friday morning came and Pat, Bruce, Rob and I (Dina would join us on Saturday night) were united in Portland and on the road to Sasquatch.

Welcome to Wash.jpg

Our first stop was to one of the strangest things you can imagine in the middle of nowhere--Stonehenge. I know you're probably thinking I have that wrong but, believe me, you're no more surprised than we were.

Stonehenge 1/4 mile

Stonehenge, Washington

Inside Stonehenge

We stopped long enough for Pat to sacrifice my husband--because apparently the man who built this replica, believed Stonehenge to be a sacrificial site and thus, built this to honor the WWI soldiers who had sacrificed their lives in the war.

Sacrifice at Stonehenge

After checking into our hotel in Ellensburg, WA, we drove the remaining 45 minutes to the Gorge Amphitheater, one of the most beautiful places you can imagine to see a concert. The amphitheater overlooks the Columbia River gorge and provides a sweeping view of the river, the gorge and the high desert beyond.

Gorge View

While the view was overwhelming, the first few bands were the opposite. The worst, however, was the band HIM. Described as "haunting, gothic, rocking, beautiful and melodic" we found them to be nothing other than irritating. The lead singer stood in one place smoking and singing for the entire set. While they're supposedly a heavy metal band, their sound was poppy and light and they filled the space between songs with banter like "How many of you......have been buried!" For their last song, they played a Black Sabbath number and, at the end, tried to "get a good vibe going" by repeating this mantra--it's not hard--it goes like this:
Black. Sabbath. Saved Our Lives.

We're still laughing over that one. Luckily, they were followed up by a surprisingly great set from Bauhaus and, the performance of all performances, Nine Inch Nails. I don't claim to be a huge fan, but I can't think of a show that even remotely compares to this. Trent Reznor is an energetic and intense performer, the music is amazing and the lightshow is brilliant without being over the top. Everything was exactly how it should be that night. Even Rob was happy to be at the festival.

Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails 2